Following the completion of the “offseason position battle” series we will post a lineup project for each of the five division one schools this week. The lineups are based on the position battle posts and are my projection with a little background research of what the Opening Day lineup might look like. Note that while some positions were not included in the offseason battle series because they had an incumbent starter those starters can still change. We will also include weekend rotations, midweek starters and closers for good measure. We are moving in reverse order of 2010 records and will look at Western Kentucky University today.
- C — Matt Rice
- 1B — Ryan Huck
- 2B — Ivan Hartle
- 3B — Casey Dykes
- SS — Logan Robbins
- LF — Jared Andreoli
- CF — Kes Carter
- RF — Ryan Hutchinson
- DH — Chris Bullard
- RHP Brian Edelen
- LHP Tanner Perkins
- RHP Taylor Haydel
Midweek starting pitchers
- RHP Justin Hageman
- RHP Phil Whetherell
In the third Western Kentucky University post in the “offseason position battle” series we will look at the Hilltoppers’ vacant first-base position:
The departed — Infielder Jake Wells, a 2010 senior, started all but the first six WKU games of 2010 at first base. Wells was one of just four Hilltoppers to start all 58 games in 2010. He batted .312 with two home runs and 41 RBI on the season. Wells scored 42 runs and boasted an .802 OPS. The first baseman committed six errors on the season and finished 2010 with a .988 fielding percentage.
The returning candidates — Junior infielder Casey Dykes was the only other Hilltopper to record a start at first base in 2010, earning the nod in the first six games of the season. Dykes is listed as a “C/UTL” on the WKU roster and made 45 starts at third base in 2010, so head coach Chris Finwood may look elsewhere for his infield cornerstone. Sophomore Blake Crabtree made the final seven games of the 2010 season at third so Dykes could make a position change…Sophomore catcher/infielder Ryan Huck didn’t appear at first base in 2010, but Finwood suggested during the fall world series most of his playing time would come there this season. Huck batted .287 with seven home runs, 30 RBI and 24 runs scored in 2010 as a freshman, so WKU needs to get his bat in the lineup if at all possible. He is blocked behind the plate by All-Sun Belt Conference catcher Matt Rice.
Newcomers to watch — Incoming freshman infielder Jordan Cessna excelled during WKU’s fall practice according to the school’s media relations department. At 6-1 he could conceivably fill in when Huck catches or serves as the designate hitter…In a news release recapping the fall World Series WKU also highlighted Canadian freshman infielder Scott Wilcox as a standout in fall practice. At 6-0 Wilcox could also fill in at first base…Freshman right-handed pitcher and infielder Brian Doering was listed as a corner infielder when he signed with WKU in 2009. Doering was named first-team all-state by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association after his senior season at Dupont Manual High School.
Wildcard — WKU boasts a plethora of outfielders with 11 players listed on the roster who can play the position. If Huck gets most of the playing time at first base, head coach Chris Finwood could try one of his surplus outfielders at first base when Huck catches. Junior college transfer Ryan Hutchison is 6-4 and could fit at first base. Sophomore outfielders Matt Borgschulte and Monte Ketchum each appeared in at least 41 games for WKU in 2010, so Finwood could be looking for a way to get them into the Hilltoppers’ lineup. If Finwood wanted to give Rice some time off from catching at 6-3 he might profile well as a first baseman as well.
In the latest position battle series post we will look at Western Kentucky University‘s vacant second base position:
The departed: Senior infielder Matt Payton began 2010 as the Hilltoppers primary second baseman and closed out the season at the same position afer briefly moving to shortstop during the middle of the season. Payton was second among WKU batters with a .354 batting average. He led the team with 63 runs scored, 10 triples and a .586 slugging percentage. Payton was the 27th round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies following his senior season.
The returning candidates: Rising junior Logan Robbins started six games at second base for WKU in 2010, but spent the majority of the season as the team’s starting shortstop. Rising sophomore Blake Crabtree played all over the diamond for the Hilltoppers in 2010, including 12 starts at second base. Crabtree started the final seven games of the 2010 season at third base.
Newcomers to watch: Junior-college transfer Ivan Hartle was named the Easton NJCAA Division I Baseball Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 while playing mostly second base for Iowa Western Community College. Head coach Chris Finwood noted freshmen infielders Scott Wilcox and Jordan Cessna as newcomers who had stood out during fall practice.
Wildcard: Rising sophomore Andrew Zimmerman appeared in just three games as a freshman for the Hilltoppers with all three appearances coming on the mound, but the right-handed pitcher was a standout infielder for Riverview High School in Florida. Zimmerman batted .404 with three home runs and 20 RBI as a senior in 2009.
College summer leagues around the country are starting play this week. BluGrass Baseball will have coverage of the Lexington Hustlers of the Great Lakes League, but I wanted to update you as to where other Kentucky collegians will play this summer. Western Kentucky University has released its summer lineup so we’ll start with them:
- OF Jared Andreoli — Green Bay Bullfrogs — Northwoods League
- OF Kes Carter — Peninsula Pilots — Coastal Plains League
- SS Logan Robbins — Peninsula Pilots — Coastal Plains League
- 3B Mike Mosby — Peninsula Pilots — Coastal Plains League*
- INF Blake Crabtree — Winchester Royals — Valley Leauge
- C Ryan Huck — Winchester Royals — Valley Leauge
- RHP Brian Edelen — New Market Rebels — Valley Leauge
- LHP Tanner Perkins — Lexington Hustlers — Great Lakes League
- RHP Taylor Haydel — Nashville Outlaws — Prospect League
- RHP Andrew Zimmerman — Owensboro Oilers — KIT League
- RHP Caleb Hanes — Owensboro Oilers — KIT League
* Mosby signed to play with WKU for the 2011 season but was the Orioles 14th round draft pick.
Kentucky teams were 9-6 in week 11 with UofL leading the way with a perfect 4-0 record. EKU didn’t play after its midweek game was canceled and weather took the weekend series. Check out these awards from the weather-shortened week 11:
Player of the week: 1B Andrew Clark (UofL)
- Stats: 9-15 (.600), 3 HR, 12 RBI, 8 R
- Honorable Mention: Phil Wunderlich (UofL), Stewart Ijames (UofL), Ryan Wright (UofL), Chris Bisson (UK), Gunner Glad (UK), Wes Cunningham (Murray St.)
Pitcher of the week: RHP Thomas Royse (UofL)
- Stats: 1-0, 8 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO
- Honorable Mention: Shane Cameron (WKU), Matt Ridings (WKU), Matt Koch (UofL), Gabriel Shaw (UofL), Cody Gibson (Morehead St.)
Freshman of the week: RHP Cody Gibson (Morehead St.)
- Stats: 1-0, 4.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO
- Honorable Mention: Jordan Cooper (UK), Matt Koch (UofL), Zak Wasserman (UofL), Blake Crabtree (WKU), Will Handlin (Murray St.)
Wes Cunningham: BluGrass Baseball photo
Baseball took a back seat Sunday as serious storms wreaked havoc across the Bluegrass and surrounding states. EKU and Morehead both lost their weekend series to weather, but after reading some headlines from across Kentucky and Tennessee a few rainouts don’t seem like that big of a deal. Check out these recaps and awards from the weather-shortened schedule:
- Western Kentucky University never overcame a four-run Troy first inning in a 6-3 loss in the rubber match of the series. Sophomore right-handed relief pitcher Phil Wetherell kept the Hilltoppers in the game with three scoreless innings out of the bullpen, but Troy scored twice in the eighth inning to put the game out of reach. Sophomore shortstop Logan Robbins scored twice in the game, and each of the first three hitters in the WKU lineup drove in one run. (Box Score)
- Freshman right-handed pitcher Jordan Cooper turned in his best start to date, but the University of Kentucky offense could break through against Tennessee in a 3-1 loss in the rubber match of the series. The loss dropped UK to tenth place in the Southeastern Conference standings. Cooper allowed two runs on four hits in five plus innings. Senior first baseman Gunner Glad and junior second baseman Chris Bisson each tallied two hits in the game. (Box Score)
- Senior first baseman Wes Cunningham tied the Murray State University single-season home run record in game one the Breds’ doubleheader sweep of Southeast Missouri and set the new mark in game two. Murray St. took game one 5-3 and game two 13-9. Cunningham launched two home runs on the day, giving him 17 for the season. The previous single-season record was 16, held by four other players. Senior left-handed reliever Matt McGaha earned the game one victory with four hitless innings out of the Breds’ bullpen. (Box Score GM 1) (Box Score GM 2)
Hitter of the Day: 1B Wes Cunningham (Murray St.)
- Stats: 4-7, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R, 2 BB
- Honorable Mention: Elliot Frey (Murray St.), Brandon Elliott (Murray St.), Gunner Glad (UK), Blake Crabtree (WKU)
Pitcher of the Day: LHP Matt McGaha (Murray St.)
- Stats: 1-0, 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO
- Honorable Mention: Jordan Cooper (UK), Will Handlin (Murray St.), Phil Wetherell (WKU)
Player of the Week: 1B Andrew Clark (UofL)
- Stats: 10-18 (.556), 4 HR, 10 RBI, 9 R
- Honorable Mention: Gunner Glad (UK), Travis Redmon (Morehead State), Drew Lee (Morehead), J. D. Ashbrook (Morehead), Wes Cunningham (Murray State), Daniel Hill (Murray St.), Adam Duvall (UofL), Zack Cox (Arkansas, PRP), Matt Payton (WKU)
Pitcher of the Week: LHP Dean Kiekhefer (UofL)
- Stats: 1-0, 1 CG, 1 SHO, 9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 SO
- Honorable Mention: Jeff Arnold (Morehead St.), Nick Kennedy (UK), Sean Bouthilette (UK), Thomas Royse (UofL), Matt Ridings (WKU), Alex Love (Murray St.), Chris Craycraft (Murray St.)
Freshman of the Week: 3B Colton Moore (Murray St.)
- Stats: 7-18, 2 R, 7 RBI, 2 BB
- Honorable Mention: Brandon Elliott (Murray St.), Blake Crabtree (WKU), Walter Wijas (UK)
Western Kentucky University tied its game against Tennessee with a base-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth inning, and then won on Blake Crabtree‘s first career hit in the tenth. Crabtree, a redshirt freshman infielder who entered the game as a defensive replacement in the tenth, drove home junior designated hitter Kory Petri on a no-out, bases-loaded single to give WKU a 5-4 win. Redshirt sophomore right-handed reliever Rye Davis earned the victory after pitching a scoreless tenth.
Sophomore center fielder Kes Carter was 3-5 with a RBI and two runs scored in the game, and junior catcher Matt Rice was 2-4 with an RBI. Freshman right fielder Matt Borgschulte also drove in a run for the Hilltoppers. Freshman right-handed starting pitcher Taylor Haydel took a no decision after allowing two runs in five innings. WKU improved to 9-3 on the season. (Box Score)
BluGrass Baseball POG: Kes Carter — Carter’s two-out RBI double in the ninth inning brought the Hilltoppers within one and kept the rally alive. Carter has been WKU’s breakout star this season and is batting .429 with one home run, 12 RBI and eight runs scored on the season.